Venezuela: stop harassing human rights defenders

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

Translations: ES

 Venezuela is intimidating and harassing human rights defenders, and making unsubstantiated allegations that they are seeking to undermine Venezuelan democracy, 28 international and Latin American human rights organizations said today. The authorities’ allegations concern the groups’ legitimate functions of documenting abuses and representing victims before international human rights bodies.

Venezuelan authorities should cease this tactic immediately, the groups said. Governments participating in the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10-11, 2015, should press the administration of Nicolás Maduro to ensure that human rights defenders can do their job without fear of reprisals, the organizations said.

The government harassment is clearly intended to discredit and intimidate groups that document human rights violations, the groups said.

On February 12, Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly and member of the governing party, stated on the website of his weekly TV show, Con el Mazo Dando, aired on the state-run Venezolana de Televisión, that “NGO representatives from the Venezuelan extreme right” would participate in hearings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in March. Cabello had previously criticized Venezuelan human rights defenders who participated in the country’s review by the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, or traveled abroad to conduct advocacy meetings.

On March 18, during his show, Cabello read a list of names of individuals and organizations who had traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in the IACHR hearings. The list included leading human rights groups such as Provea, Espacio Público (Public Space), Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones (Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons), Transparencia Venezuela (Transparency Venezuela), Cofavic, Codevida, and Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social (Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflicts). Cabello accused them of receiving instructions from the US Embassy in Caracas before traveling to the hearings.

Cabello contends that the information presented on the show had been provided by anonymous “patriotic informants” (patriotas cooperantes).

Twelve human rights defenders who arrived in Caracas on various flights between March 20 and 22 have said that they were followed by unidentified men from when they landed until they left the airport, were filmed or photographed, and/or that officials irregularly searched their bags.

On March 23, María Alejandra Díaz, a lawyer who represented the government at the IACHR hearings, said onVenezolana de Televisión that “The issue of human rights is just a façade” and that nongovernmental groups that participated in the hearings “say they are Venezuelan” but “play the imperialist game” and “lie in front of the IACHR to make Venezuela look like the devil.”

An article published on April 3 in the official newspaper Correo del Orinoco accused two well-respected human rights defenders of being part of the US Central Intelligence Agency’s “Venezuelan delegation” at the Summit of the Americas. Their objective is to “legitimize destabilization actions” in Venezuela, the article says.

Under international law, governments must ensure that human rights defenders are allowed to pursue their legitimiate activities without reprisals, threats, intimidation, harassment, discrimination, or unnecessary legal obstacles. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights held in 2003 that “[r]espect for human rights in a democratic state depends largely on human rights defenders enjoying effective and adequate guarantees so as to freely go about their activities.”

The rights to freedom of expression and association may be subject to limitations, but the limitations must adhere to strict standards so that they do not improperly impede the exercise of those rights. Any restrictions should be prescribed by law, be necessary in a democratic society, and proportionate to the aim pursued.

In 2012, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association called on countries to ensure that these rights “are enjoyed by everyone and any registered or unregistered entities” and that no one is subject to “harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals” for exercising them.

Amnesty International
Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) (Peru)
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC) (Argentina)
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan, A.C. (Mexico)
Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, A.C. (Centro Prodh) (Mexico)
Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia) (Colombia)
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) 
Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos, A.C. (CADHAC) (Mexico)
Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (Colombia)
Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU) (Ecuador)
Corporación Humanas (Chile)
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (Peru)
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR) (Uruguay)
Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL) (Peru)
Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Direitos Humanos (Brazil)
International Commission of Jurists
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Frontline Defenders
Fundación Myrna Mack (Guatemala)
Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH) (Ecuador)
Human Rights Watch
Observatorio Ciudadano (Chile)
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Transparency International
World Organization Against Torture

For any press enquiries please contact

Tel: +49 30 34 38 20 666
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Support Transparency International

Support Us

What people think: corruption in the Middle East & North Africa

Momentum has been building against corruption for years in the Middle East and North Africa. From Lebanon and Sudan, where millions of people took to the streets earlier this year to speak out against their governments, to the Arab revolutions that toppled corrupt leaders nearly a decade ago, people are fed up with rampant corruption across the region.

Wasta: How personal connections are denying citizens opportunities and basic services

In many Arab countries the use of personal connections, or “wasta” in Arabic, is a common practice and a social norm. People use their family or social contacts to skip the line and gain quicker and better access to basic goods and services. How much you can increase the speed and quality of your service often depends on who you know – the higher the better, of course.

Sextortion: Middle East and North Africa

Sextortion is one of the most significant forms of gendered corruption and although women’s rights have advanced unevenly across the Middle East and North Africa, positive momentum has been building in the region over the last decade.

Lack of political integrity is undermining trust in democracy in Middle East and North Africa

The Global Corruption Barometer – Middle East and North Africa 2019 reveals that leaders in the region are perceived as acting in their own self-interest at the expense of the citizens they are meant to serve. This has serious consequences for trust in democratic institutions.

آراء المواطنين:  الفساد في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا

لقد تزايد زخم التنديد بالفساد خلال السنوات الماضية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا. وضاق الناس ذرعا بالفساد المستشري في مختلف أنحاء المنطقة، من لبنان والسودان، حيث خرج ملايين الناس إلى الشوارع في مطلع هذا العام للتنديد بصوت عال بممارسات حكوماتهم، إلى الثورات العربية التي أطاحت بالزعماء الفاسدين منذ زهاء عشر سنوات.

الرشوة الجنسية: منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا

على الرغم من تفاوت التقدم المُحرز على مستوى حقوق المرأة في مختلف أنحاء الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا، شهدت المنطقة زخما إيجابيا تنامى تدريجيا خلال العقد الماضي. إذ أصبح عدد أكبر من النساء يُعبّرن عن أنفسهن داعيات إلى تعزيز تمثيل المرأة في الحكومة وتجريم العنف المنزلي وتحقيق المساواة في الحقوق للنساء والفتيات، إلى جانب عدد من المسائل الأخرى التي تهم المرأة. وتُناضل النساء في مختلف دول المنطقة من أجل إعلاء كلمتهن.

حرمان المواطنين من مختلف الفرص والخدمات الأساسية  بسبب استغلال آخرين لعلاقاتهم الشخصية

يُعتبر استغلال العلاقات الشخصية في البلدان العربية، أو ما يُعبّر عنه بالواسطة، مُمارسة منتشرة ومُتعارف عليها اجتماعيا. إذ يستغل مختلف الأشخاص علاقاتهم الأسرية أو الاجتماعية لعدم الوقوف في الصف وللوصول على نحو أسرع وأفضل إلى المدارس أو الجامعات أو المستشفيات أو الوظائف، و"لتعجيل" الإجراءات الإدارية في المؤسسات الحكومية مثل تجديد وثائق الهوية أو شهادات الميلاد. وتعتمد عادة سرعة حصولك على الخدمة وجودتها على الشخص الذي تعرفه؛ فبطبيعة الحال، كلما كان في منصب أعلى كان ذلك أفضل لك.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media